Moments Matter

Embracing Our Beams of Love in 2014

The Christmas tree is stripped of its color and shimmering flare. The holiday lights have long been unplugged, and tiny shreds of wrapping paper have disappeared. The homemade fudge and sprinkled sugar cookies have all but vanished.

It’s over, in a flash just like that.

Writing a New Beginning and Ending
Like most everything in life, there is an end. But how about considering new beginnings?

Someone once said that although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Of course, I can’t help but reflect over the past year. At first glance, I have regrets.

I didn’t write enough. I didn’t network enough. I didn’t socialize enough. I didn’t read enough to my children. I didn’t have enough meaningful conversations. I didn’t eat slow enough. I didn’t laugh enough. I didn’t smile enough at strangers. I didn’t volunteer and donate enough.

Enough. Enough.

Part of me loves the beginning of a New Year. Oftentimes, though, I want to stay soaking in the warm, bubbly bath of Christmas euphoria – full of lights, laughter, joy and love.

Photo Courtesy of Jenny Mason Photography

Photo Courtesy of Jenny Mason Photography

Love.

I think Author Anne Lamott puts it best in this poignant self reflection: “Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.”

2014 Mantra
This year, I don’t plan on setting goals, or dieting, or quitting anything for that matter. Taking a deeper look at the past year is learning to appreciate and endure those beams of love. I plan on viewing each success and flaw as gifts.

As a first step in my 2014 mantra, I need to confess something that has been a struggle to admit for several years: I have a gift as a writer and communicator at some level. My gift of writing, which is a gift from God, is something I love sharing with each of you on this blog.

In looking at the various posts over the year, I feel proud of my little blog – its honesty, realness and integrity. For those that may have missed a few of my posts, or want a refresher, I put together a short list of my favorite posts (below).

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for commenting, sharing – and most of all for reading. I hope (in some form) that my posts inspired, touched your heart, or caused you to savor in moments that matter.

My Fave Posts of 2013
Acts of Love
Q&A With Sarah: An Act of Listening
Hiding Behind X: My Story of Dyscalculia
Finding My Voice
Preparing My Heart

So, here’s to writing our new beginnings and new endings filled with beams of love – ‘enoughs’ and all.

And again, in the words of the poetic and wise Anne Lamott: “I hope you have gotten sufficiently tired of hitting the snooze button; I know that what you need or need to activate in yourself will appear; I pray that your awakening comes with ease and grace, and stamina when the going gets hard. To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are.”

How are you ‘writing’ your new beginning in 2014? Do you have aspirations for the year, or are you nixing the whole idea of New Year’s resolutions? Any Clearly Kristal faves from 2013?

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Preparing My Heart

The tiny woman gingerly hoisted herself to the wooden organ bench. Fixing her flowing skirt and neatly pinned silver hair, she quickly thumbed the music book pages. Her blue eyes twinkled as she placed each finger on the keys. The first notes filled the small room. Women flipped off their shoes to dance while their skirts spun like flowers opening at lighting speed. Red-faced men stomped and lifted their hands to the beat of the music.

I stood next to the organist who was also wife of the pastor, Virginia. She wore frosted pink lipstick and had dark, leathery skin. “Oh, that’s a lovely dress you have on today, dear,” she would say smoothly. Her husband, Ray was the senior pastor, who was just as old (if not older) than his lovely wife. He spoke in a kind, firm voice and had a striking similarity to Marlin Perkins in his overly ironed khaki slacks.

I remember attending this evangelistic church for several years with my mother and two younger sisters. We would drive into town from our commune, and pull up to the three-room building next to the railroad tracks in our red station wagon.

Sitting on my farm porch at the age five. Probably getting ready to head into town for church.

Sitting on my farm porch at the age of five. Probably getting ready to head into town for church.

This church was not anything like the traditional Christian church I had attended with my grandparents. I have fond memories of wearing a fancy dress while holding my grandpa’s soft hand and listening to the story of Jesus on felt boards during Sunday school. However, the church my hippie mother selected for us to attend in the mid-1970s to early 1980s played a crucial role in my spiritual walk.

Church Turned Cult
The little church our family belonged to would wait to hear from the “prophet,” who was the founder and leader. “The return of Jesus is near,” Pastor Ray would repeat in a drone-like state. What the prophet said was “law.” I remember whispering to my mother during one service: “When’s Jesus coming back? It seems like he’s taking forever.” Eventually, the church forbade members from associating with non-members. And that is when my free-spirited, loving mother made the decision to leave the church.

But it was in the quiet moments at my first church that I began talking to God. And He began to talk back.

We soon began attending another church across town that had dramatically toned down evangelical elements. However, there was a lingering sense of weary and doubt I had formed about churches in general. Over the years, I still attended church, but usually kept my distance from church members and its functions. Throughout college and most of my adult life, I church hopped, and never quite found “the church” that felt comfortable.

I still prayed and read my Bible. Mostly importantly, I still loved God. And He loved me. I could have been bitter and angry. But, quite the opposite, I was full of faith.

I had faith that God would not forsake me.

Finding Home, Finding Him
When our family moved to Orange County in 2006, I finally found my home church. Mariner’s Church felt like home. No prophet to follow, but Jesus. My older daughter, Sarah, in particular has grown to love the Lord. To seal our commitment publicly, we made the decision to become baptized together this last month.

My daughter and I seconds after being baptized.

My daughter and I seconds after being baptized. Photo credit: Misty Teasta.

It was a very personal, unforgettable and beautiful moment. As my head submerged in the icy water, there was a rush of realization: I knew this was the moment God had been preparing my heart for years to receive. To top it off, the amazing gift of God bringing my sweet child to be baptized alongside me!

What an incredible testimony to know that if your heart is open you can receive God’s love anywhere – even in a small church next to the railroad tracks with your hippie mom by your side.

With that, I leave you with these words spoken to me from the Big Guy (not Santa) himself during a recent prayer session.

God Bless You.

I am Here, Always

Listen to me
In the quietness
In the stillness
I am Here
Always

Through Adversity
Stay Strong
For I am Here

Basking in the Sunlight
And even through Darkness
I have the Answers

Be Patient My Child
Do Not Get Caught Up
In the Ways of this World
As this is not Your Final
Resting Spot

You are but an Ant
In the Breeze
Take My Hand
Take My Hand

Do Not Be Afraid
For I Am Here
I Am Here

Do Not Write
Or Think
Or Act
As you think I would want you to
But Act as a Child of God

Crawl Into the Safety
Of My Arms
For Now and Always
I Am Here

Kneel Down Before Me
Ask Me for Nothing
As I have Given You
Everything

I Have Already Written Your Story
Here and Now
Do Not Doubt
Do Not Doubt

Live for Me
As I have Given You Gifts Beyond
Your Wildest Dreams

Remember that I Heal
All Wounds and Pain
For I am Your Creator

I am Your Salvation
I am Your Redemption

Your Well is Dry
And I fill it

Your Cup is Empty
And then it overflows –
Only Because I fill it

Would you like to share any thoughts or experiences of your spiritual journey? Has your faith been shaken? Have you recovered your belief in a higher power? Do you talk to God? Is He answering?

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